The Caged Ghost of Glenwood

ghost
“Cactus Man” -Odilon Redon

Frank Turnbrook left a wife and several daughters when he was summoned to fight in the Civil War. He would eventually be known as General Frank Turnbrook. Mrs. Turnbrook took her children into Maryland, where she thought they would be safe. They moved to a small town called Glenwood in 1861. She was fortunate enough to find a large house with reasonable rent. With such turmoil in the world, thoughts of a ghost or ghostly activity were the farthest from her mind.

The House

Mrs. Turnbrook waited for her husband’s check to pay for their expenses. When it arrived, she took it to the bank and turned it over. She directed the bank to deliver her cash to her house. The bank staff hesitated. She heard whisperings about a haunted house, but demanded they bring her money to her home. They eventually agreed.

She dismissed their reaction as utter nonsense and continued with her tasks. Two weeks passed before anything unusual happened. The main housekeeper visited Mrs. Turnbrook with ominous news. She said two of the other servants said if the strange noises didn’t cease, they were leaving. She moved them from the staff quarters on the second floor to the bedrooms near her own.

She went to explore the upper floors and see if she could locate what made the unsettling noises. She went from one room to the next, but couldn’t find anything unusual that might issue ghostly sounds. She eventually came to a huge, spacious room she hadn’t known about. It was an abandoned bedroom. The strangest aspect about the room was a huge iron cage in the center of the room. She assumed a previous owner must’ve had their pets in the room.

The Activity Increases

She continued with the inspection, but didn’t find anything else. The day continued normally, as did the next. For several days, the home remained quiet. A few of the servants left over the noises, but she believed their imagination was getting the better of them. Then, one night, she heard someone walking overhead, as if they walked towards the strange room with the cage. Then, the steps receded. The footfall paced for an hour. She suspected intruders were in the house. She resolved to keep it to herself until she could decide what to do.

The family sat down for breakfast the next morning. She was tempted to confess what happened the night before, but held her tongue. Her son had come in far past his curfew and she chastised him for his disregard. She assumed he would make light of the situation, but he didn’t. He seemed almost despondent. He said he couldn’t sleep because people kept knocking on his door and looking in on him. He thought the servants didn’t trust him to put his candle out before he went to sleep.

It was as if the verbal gates were opened. Suddenly, everyone had a story. All the girls had seen and heard things, as had the rest of the staff. Mrs. Turnbook was speechless. She paid a visit to Mrs. Adkins, a family friend, who lived nearby. She told her about the situation. Mrs. Adkins was a stalwart skeptic. She thought the family was suffering from nothing more than bad dreams.

Mrs. Adkins

She brought her cocker spaniel with her and volunteered to sleep in the most haunted room in the house. She didn’t believe there was any truth to the haunting at all. Upon arrival, she inspected the entire room from ceiling to floors. She then inspected the entire second story. When everything was to her satisfaction, she unpacked her things. That night, she lay down in the bed with her dog.

Only minutes later, the animal began to howl. Her door suddenly opened and a pale, sickly boy entered the room. At first, she assumed it was Mrs. Turnbook’s son. It couldn’t be. This boy was far too skinny. She knew it was a living person, whether he was related or not. He walked into the cage in the middle of the room, and then back out. He eventually left the room altogether. She followed him, determined to discover where the stranger had entered the house.

She started to follow him down the main steps, but the form disappeared. She waited a moment to see if her eyes had just played tricks on her. They weren’t. The form had gone. Adkins promptly packed her things and left.

Mrs. Turnbrook was irate. She confronted the property owner, who said it was no time for Virginians to allow their imaginations to run wild. He said she’d signed a legal document and had to stay until the end of the terms. Mrs. Turnbrook found a loophole to the agreement. She rented out the old house to other people, while she and her family rented another. The landlord knew about it, but didn’t care. He just wanted the matter quiet.

Macabre History

It wasn’t long before she knew the real story behind the room with the cage. A neighbor finally confessed what the entire region knew. Before the landlord owned it, another man had it. He took in his orphaned nephew, who also happened to be wealthy. The uncle deceived the entire the community. He said the child had no discipline and needed constant punishment.

The boy was tortured throughout his childhood, even before the cage. The older he got, the more brutal his punishments became. Finally, the iron cage was ordered and installed in the house. The boy was threatened with imprisonment. Then, he was imprisoned. Finally, it became a common way to correct “bad behavior” in the household. He was then in for days at a time, and finally days with no food or water. He eventually died and the uncle got everything.

The uncle’s life after the iron cage, as well as the home’s ultimate fate, was never recorded.

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